As the current COVID-19 virus pandemic ramps up in the country, the English football bodies, including the Premier League and EFL, have confirmed that their original suspension date of April 30 is unrealistic and that the situation would now be put under constant review.
“Any return to play will only be with the full support of government and when medical guidance allows,” the Premier League said.
“It was acknowledged that the Premier League will not resume at the beginning of May – and that the 2019-20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”
How the season eventually pans out will be through one of the following five outcomes:
1. Null and void the season
2. End the season now
3. Set a deadline for completion
4. Play behind closed doors
5. Wait to complete the season
European Precedent and Issues
Yesterday, the Belgian Pro League announced they would be cancelling their league, thus completing the season as the table stood, without entering their traditional end of season play-offs.
Club Brugges were declared champions based on the current table, despite the normal top-six play-offs not taking place.
Brugges held a 15 point gap with one regular season game to go, so at least mathematically, they would finish top in the provisional table. Regarding Liverpool’s current situation in the English Premier League, they don’t have the mathematical closure to satisfy such a decision.
However, the Belgian league has given themselves another two weeks to make the decision official, while a ‘working group’ decides the European and relegation places.
The Belgian league announcement preceded UEFA later stating that an early finish to the league may put their European places in jeopardy.
In a statement also signed by the European Club Association and European Leagues, UEFA concluded: “Since participation in Uefa club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfilment of such condition.”
It seems at this stage, with a focus on European leagues looking at the possibility of potentially completing their seasons in the months of July and August, the conclusions of this year’s UEFA European competitions wold swiftly follow afterwards.
What happens to the 2020/21 season, in terms of it commencing, is currently anybody’s guess though.
EFL STATEMENT: CORONAVIRUS UPDATE
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the EFL, Premier League, FA and Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship has today collectively agreed to postpone its football competitions until it is safe to resume.
Football is committed in supporting the Government’s efforts in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak and the staging of football matches in this country. It is clearly something that simply cannot happen at this time. The thoughts of everyone associated with the EFL and its member Clubs are with anyone currently affected by the Coronavirus.
The situation will be kept under constant review with matches only returning at an appropriate point and based on the latest guidance provided by the relevant Government departments and health authorities.
The EFL also notes and appreciates the decision taken today by the Premier League in respect of the short term financial relief it is to provide EFL Clubs through the advancement of solidarity payments, parachute payments and Academy Grants. These actions will have a positive impact on individual Clubs across our three divisions at a difficult and uncertain time.